As proven by Huey Lewis and the News, there will always be an appetite for blue collar rock, no matter what the flavor of the month happens to be.
For a good ten years there, from the early ’80s to the early ’90s to be exact, the San Francisco Bay area-based band shared chart space with synthesized pop acts, white bread ballads and frilly heavy metal hubbub.
Operating in an era where music was grossly overproduced and artists relied more on image than creativity, Huey Lewis and the News were by no means trendsetters or fashions plates. Thoroughly aware of how plain and simple they were compared to their peers, the band even recorded a song called “Hip To Be Square,” which unfortunately does not appear on this retrospective.
But it’s hard to resist a catchy tune, and as Time Flies: The Best of Huey Lewis and the News (Elektra Entertainment Group) asserts, the band deposited a stockpile of such treasures.
Citing gritty old school soul and the slick and sleek style of Motown as principal influences, the band combined these inspirations with tubby pop hooks and chanting choruses, resulting in a sound easy to grasp and sing along with.
Boasting a repertoire further stitched of braying saxophones, bluesy harmonica fills and sharply attired rhythms, Huey Lewis & The News are basically a well oiled bar band. Disciplined and direct, the group’s songs are cohesively structured and played with a practiced professionalism.
Straightforward and spunky, it’s easy to hear how tracks like “Do You Believe In Love,” “If This Is It,” “The Heart Of Rock and Roll,” “I Want A New Drug,” “Bad Is Bad,” “The Power Of Love” and “Heart And Soul” blitzed the airwaves and kept the band in the limelight.
Although there is nothing original or risky about the group, their heads remain in the right place, as they capture the core form and feel of the greats they emulate. Padded tight with punchy songs, Time Flies: The Best of Huey Lewis and the News is a worthy summary of a roots rock band with just enough contemporary values to give them leverage and accessibility.